ANU Research Helps Plants Ability to Naturally Preserve Water
Australian National University, Canberra biologists have found a new way to help plants survive drought by enhancing their natural ability to conserve water.
The research team mapped the chemical signals used by plants to close the pores on their leaves and restrict water loss in drought conditions.
Dr Su Yin, Phua, Dr Kai Xun Chan, Diep Ganguly and Estee Tee. Photo: Stuart Hay, ANU
The study, published their research in eLIFE, found chloroplasts in cells surrounding the pores on leaves, called stomata, can sense drought stress and thereby activate a chemical signal that closes stomata to conserve water.
By enhancing the chloroplast signal on plants used in the experiments, barley and a small native weed called Aradbidopsis, researchers found they survived 50 per cent longer in drought conditions.
The research team, led by Dr Wannarat Pornsiriwong, Dr Gonzalo Estavillo, Dr Kai Chan and Dr Barry Pogson, hope the research leads to benefits for major crops such as barley, rice and wheat, which are crucial to world food supplies.